You see dozens, maybe hundreds of billboards on your daily commutes and driving adventures. The truth is, most of us probably never take a second look once they’ve passed our rearview mirror. Rareform, a Los Angeles-based bag manufacturer, wants to change that. This upcycling company takes unwanted billboard vinyl pieces—those enormous 12’ x 48’ ads you see-but-don’t-see every day—and repurposes them into ultra-durable bags to accompany you on every adventure. Crafted with design in mind and long-lasting structure to withstand the elements, Rareform bags are truly one-of-a-kind.
Rareform founders Aric and Alec Avedissian knew that thousands of pounds of billboard vinyl were tossed every year into landfills. Los Angeles is a major advertising city, after all, and home to all kinds of businesses seeking to make a name for themselves by posting eye-catching ads on busy side streets. That’s why, in 2012, the brothers stepped up to the plate to do something about it. They believed a business shouldn’t have to choose between high-quality products and doing a little good in the world.
The idea sparked for the Avedissian brothers after a trip to El Salvador, during which they witnessed locals using old billboards for housing. They looked around to see locals using them in even more clever ways – including as bags.
Today, Rareform repurposes 20,000 pounds of billboard every month to bring you one-of-a-kind backpacks, duffel bags, hip sacks, wallets, phone cases and more. They focus on the colors, typography and design of these billboards, carefully cutting, cleaning, sorting and sewing your next bag. No two are exactly alike.
Billboard vinyl is a durable, waterproof, lightweight and eco-friendly alternative to many existing manufacturing materials. The process of turning these raw materials into your next “It Bag” begins by collecting these materials after they retire from their signage home above the traffic. Rareform collects billboards from around the country and brings them back to Los Angeles. From there, the pieces are cut and sewn into a new creation with a brand-new life to live—right under your arm.
From there, the process is easy for you. Just choose your style: duffels, backpacks, totes, wallets, even sleeves! The one you pick is the exact one you will get, and styles go fast. Rareform focuses on fashioning quality bags that you’ll be proud to carry to the office, the beach, or the weekend staycation. They’re great for the environmentally conscious person, or anyone who loves great design and durability. Their selection is ever changing, and the brothers’ mission sits at the heart of everything they do.
But Rareform doesn’t stop there. They partner with athletes and influencers to spread the word in the digital space. They offer custom creations for those who want something even more personal. They even offer group discounts for teams and groups, along with distribution and wholesale opportunities. This brand is growing fast, and securing its name in a whole new era of millennial consumers who are ditching the brand name for the brand that cares. They have been featured in Forbes, Men’s Journal, CNN, Fast Company and more. With Rareform, you don’t have to sacrifice high quality for high standards. You’ll find all that and much more.
We spoke with Rareform owner Alec Avedissian about what happened after his episode of Shark Tank aired. Their appearance on the show led to a flood of sales equally 50% of their total online business last year, in just one weekend! Here’s what he had to say about watching the episode on TV –
“The response of the product and idea was so positive and great. We did get some pushback from people (which is understandable) that we manufacture some parts in Mexico. I was bummed though that the edit didn’t tell people the whole truth in that we cut, and wash and do the patterns for each piece we make at our facility here in Los Angeles and then send those cut pieces for final sewing to be done in Mexico.
Even though I knew the outcome of the show I was on pins and needles in how they cut it to be so intense. It was more lighthearted when we were in the Shark Tank then it was portrayed. But, it was a once in a life time opportunity and one that has been great and have been blessed by it. “ – Alec Avedissian